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Spanish seafood exports increased by 4.29 percent to EUR 4,344 million, and the volume exported reached 1,216,734 tons, up 1.49 percent y-o-y.

Seafood exports maintain upward trend in 2018

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Friday, June 14, 2019, 05:00 (GMT + 9)

The Spanish fishing sector captured 922,564 tonnes of fish and shellfish during 2018, a volume similar to that of the previous year, revalidating its leadership in the European Union, with a quota of 20 percent, according to the latest data compiled by the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (Cepesca).

In the third edition of its Report on the Spanish fishing sector, Cepesca also highlights that the turnover of the Spanish fishing fleet reached EUR 2,147 million in 2017, and points to the need for new crew members as the main problem in the sector.


Big figures of fishing in Spain

In 2018, Spain imported 1,773,048 tonnes of fishery products worth EUR 7,332.6 million, which represents an increase of 2.49 percent in value with respect to 2017.

Spanish  seafood exports increased by 4.29 percent to EUR 4,344 million, and the volume exported reached 1,216,734 tons, up 1.49 percent y-o-y.

Cepesca points out in its report that although the trade balance remains negative, there is an upward trend in exports from Spain, maintained during the last decade.

Evolution of foreign trade in fish

With regard to employment, the sector generated 31,473 direct jobs in 2018, a figure practically equal to that of 2017 (31,456) and representing 20 percent ​​of the European total. It is worth highlighting the gradual incorporation of women into the fishing sector, which already represents 17.28 percent, thanks to the insertion policies developed by Spain and Europe, as well as the plans and projects of the companies.

As for the fleet, in 2018 it was made up of 8,972 vessels and the adjustment plan that the sector has been assuming since the entry of Spain into the EU is maintained. In this regard, during 2018, 174 vessels were scrapped. Of the total number of vessels, the national fishing ground comprises the majority (8,674) and the remaining 4 percent works in EU and international waters. However, the fleet of these last fishing grounds (298 boats) brings together more than 60 percent of the total catches of Spain.

Spain holds the third European position in number of ships, after Greece (14,000) and Italy (12,000). By fishing gear, the largest number of boats (7,151) corresponds to smaller, fixed gear and gillnets. On the other hand, 922 vessels are classified as trawllers, 579 are purse seiner and 320 longliners (surface and bottom longliners).

The complete report of CEPESCA can be read here (Spanish)

The shortage of crew is the most pressing problem in the Spanish fishing sector, as it can endanger its activity. To alleviate this situation, Cepesca has launched a Strategic Plan to attract Spanish talent and facilitate the hiring of foreigners.

Another challenge of the sector is the age of the fleet. While the average age is 32 years, there are more than 2,700 boats over 40 years old, basically of minor arts. The sector believes it is necessary to undertake a renewal and modernization plan through financial instruments and agreements with the Official Credit Institute (ICO) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), to facilitate access to financing. It also believes that the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (FEMP) should provide support for this purpose.

Likewise, and in view of the full entry into force of the landing obligation, which obliges the vessels to bring to port all the species subject to TAC and the species with a minimum size of conservation, in the case of the Mediterranean, the sector demands to use maximum flexibility mechanisms established in the European regulation. It also calls for close collaboration with the autonomous communities to create the necessary infrastructure in ports or fish markets, for a correct treatment of species that were previously discarded and that now have to be brought to port.

Finally, faced with the the ''Brexit' threat still to be defined, Cepesca considers that work should be done to implement contingency plans to mitigate the possible damages and on protocols for bilateral negotiations of the EU with the United Kingdom to guarantee a balance between access to waters and markets.

"Spain has a fishing sector of which we must be proud, not only for its European leadership, but also for its ability to adapt to the new times, with a great effort that must be recognized," says Javier Garat, Secretary General of Cepesca . "Besides," he adds, "our fleet is an example of good fishing practices and initiatives aimed at safeguarding marine ecosystems and guaranteeing the well-being of its men and women, to which our social work is added as one of the key key contributors to any healthy diet."

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